Cognitive problems associated with MS translate to poor focus, slowed thinking and vague memory, which means Lizzy - as my wife and carer - is my shadow; she hears what I hear, she sees what I see, she absorbs any of the all-important attention to detail I fail to grasp. This is an admission that I am no longer too proud to admit to, because as an MSer I accept this is who I am.
My day-to-day life is a shared experience with Lizzy, my constant companion, who must be in the room when it happens. This year, so far, I have sat in the dentist’s chair as the dentist polished, drilled and filled my teeth to make them clean, healthy and acceptable post lockdown. I have also had a plethora of blood tests, two prostate examinations to check the gland was still fit for purpose and, finally, just to make sure, I have been subjected to the sound and fury of an MRI scanner.
Yet, on reflection, it really was not all about me. While I laid back in the dental chair with mouth opened wide, Lizzy was sat at the back in the corner, gritting her own teeth, listening to the ominous sound of the dentist’s drill as if she were being forced to watch that infamous scene in Marathon Man.
A UTI wrought havoc on an MS-owned bladder for a month. At a time where having a face-to-face consultation with a GP was as rare as hens’ teeth – my apologies for another dental reference – it was Lizzy who pushed for that appointment which led to the first prostate examination. Such was the state of my anxiety, she was again in the room when it happened, as she was throughout the battery of blood tests that followed (neither of us can stand the sight of blood, especially mine).
Hot on its heels came the MRI; after a working lifetime of paying into a private health scheme - without which I would still be waiting for an appointment now – not only was I offered earplugs to muffle the clattering noise, but also headphones to listen to a radio station of my choice.
As the MRI equipment went to work, I meditated and was oblivious to the sound of the machine. That is what I like about meditation. It brings calmness even in the most extreme of situations. Not so for Lizzy, who was not meditating. Her high anxiety would not allow for it. This time she was outside the room where it happened, instead listening to the grinding, banging, vibrating noise of a machine sounding as if it were striving to break the MRI sound barrier.
After 30 years together, I do wonder, even after all this time, if Lizzy really knew what it was she was signing up for when we got together. As far as I can see, after all she has put herself through sharing my MS with me, she sure as hell didn’t do it for the carer’s allowance.
Previously a writer of comedy and satire for stage, radio and satirical clubs, Martin was contracted to write a musical for the Westend and Broadway inspired by his best-selling book, “To Be Or Not To Be, Innit, a Yoof-Speak Guide to Shakespeare”.
After several MS relapses which curtailed his writing career for several years, Martin has successfully rebuilt his life as a Multiple Sclerosis Blogger and Influencer.
Instagram: @martinhbaum @serenityonsea